As usual with many topics, there is a lively debate about D-STAR on qrz.com. Unfortunately, there seems to be a bunch of folks that hang out on qrz just to be negative on any new ideas. Here’s the easy-to-read summary of the qrz.com discussion. (I am saving you the trouble of wading through all the QRM.)
VE7TKO (a vocal proponent of D-STAR) starts the discussion with:
D-STAR is probably the greatest advancement ever seen in ham radio to date. D-STAR stands for “Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio”.
Then the opposition comes screaming in:
Objection Number 1: D-STAR is proprietary, not an open standard.
Reality: Not True…D-STAR is an open standard. The system has been developed in collaboration with and is owned by JARL (Japan Amateur Radio League).
Objection Number 2: The commercial / land mobile standard APCO-25 is the way to go, not D-STAR.
Reality: APCO-25 was developed for police/fire/public safety radio. It may be applicable to ham radio use, but D-STAR was designed specifically for amateur use. Amateur radio has a history of adopting commercial standards but it is not clear that APCO-25 will win out over D-STAR.
Objection Number 3: D-STAR isn’t the essence of ham radio, more like a cellphone system.
Reality: It depends on how you define the essence of ham radio. I see it as applying new technology in interesting and useful ways. An open mind is a wonderful thing.
Objection Number 4: The Internet is bad for ham radio, so connecting the Internet to ham radio is even worse.
Reality: Changes in technology outside of ham radio will continue to affect ham radio. Example: There was a time when we had no computers, now they are common. Ham radio was obviously affected by this new technology (for the better, I argue). To expect new, relevant technologies to not influence ham radio is kind of silly.
Objection Number 5: This system tracks your position for everyone to see. Sounds like “Big Brother” to me.
Reality: Ever heard of APRS? Don’t turn on the feature and you’ll be fine.
Objection Number 6: Only ICOM has D-STAR radios, so it is a one vendor solution.
Reality: Good point. If D-STAR is going to get widely adopted other manufacturers must join in. Kenwood is rumored to be introducing a D-STAR radio.
Objection Number 7: I don’t see the clear, compelling benefit to using D-STAR.
Reality: Another good point. It is still fuzzy how the average Joe Ham will benefit from D-STAR. Meanwhile, some of the technie hams are experimenting with new D-STAR systems.
Objection Number 8: D-STAR radios cost more than analog FM radios.
Reality: Yes, for now anyway. The price will have to come down for it to be successful, which is common for new technologies.
For more information on D-STAR see http://www.icomamerica.com/amateur/dstar/dstar2.asp